Series: Cadwal Chronicles 1
Reviewed date: 2009 Oct 22
I enjoyed Araminta Station. It's longer than the other Vance books I've read, so it suffers a bit more from Vance's tendency to wander about aimlessly. The action is full of loose plot threads, rabbit trails, and dead ends. It's a fun story though, and hopefully some of those unresolved threads will be taken up in the sequels.
Glawen Clattuc is nearing his 21st birthday, which is a big deal at Araminta Station on the planet Cadwal. The entire planet is reserved as a Conservancy. The population of Araminta Station is strictly limited, so as to minimize the human impact upon the planet which is to be kept pristine. When Glawen turns 21, his Index will be calculated. If his Index is greater than 20, he will be classified as a collateral and will be cast out of Aramintan society. If it's 20 or lower, Glawen will gain Agency Status.
Glawen joins Bureau B, to be a police/defense/justice agent like his father. Glawen's chief rival is his cousin Arles Clattuc. At first Arles is merely a pain; he and his Bold Lions club carouse and talk big, but nobody--least of all Glawen--takes them seriously. Then Glawen's girlfriend, Sessily Veder, is murdered. Suspicion falls on Arles. Nothing can be proven, and eventually life goes on.
Meanwhile, bigger events are afoot. The Yips, who live on the nearby island of Yipton, seem to be plotting a violent coup to seize power on Cadwal. But nothing can be proven. And Arles attempts to rape Glawen's new girlfriend--but this time he's caught and punished.
Glawen and another Bureau B agent, Kirdy Wook, are sent off planet to track down a lead on some nefarious human trafficking that involves the Yips. Kirdy does everything he can to sabotage their mission, eventually leaving Glawen stranded and imprisoned by a bizarre religious sect. Glawen escapes, makes his way back to Araminta--where he figures out who really killed Sessily (Kirdy did it!), foils a plot by Arles to rob him of his Agency Status (Arles's son isn't his son!), and uncovers the identity of Titus Pompo, leader of the Yips (Namour!) Glawen kills Kirdy in self-defense, the judge banishes Arles and his mother forever, and Namour escapes offplanet. We still don't know what the Yips are up to, and Glawen's father is still missing, so there's plenty of fun left for a sequel or two (two! There are two.)